Borders foxhunting lobby unites to oppose law reform

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Three Borders hunts are urging that no change is made to Scotland’s hunting with dogs legislation, arguing that it has worked well over the past 14 years.

A review of the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act 2002 was ordered at the beginning of this year, Lord Bonomy taken written evidence from interested parties between February and March. The review looked at whether current legislation is providing the necessary level of protection for foxes and other wild mammals while allowing for effective and humane control where required.

Submissions made as part of the review process were published this week and the Buccleuch, Lauderdale and Berwickshire Hunts all indicated that they would like to see the status quo maintained.

“It is a piece of legislation which seems to us to achieve a balance between providing the necessary level of protection for wild mammals while allowing for their effective control,” states Joe Scott Plummer, the current chairman of the Buccleuch Foxhounds.

The Lauderdale Foxhounds also favour the status quo, noting: “The Act does not require amendment as it provides an effective and humane means of conducting necessary predator control.

“It is often alleged by some parties that as mounted hunts are seen to continue, they are flouting the law and continuing to operate as before. This is categorically not the case.”

And Tim Culham, chairman of the Berwickshire Hunt, agrees: “We have received few, if any, complaints that we are not doing the job properly and Police Scotland seem content there are no issues for them either. In other words, the Act is being enforced and complied with.”

But in one of several submissions on behalf of animal welfare groups, Mike Flynn, chief superintendent of the Scottish SPCA, says his organisation’s misgivings before the legislation was enacted remained in place.

“While the intention of the Act is to be admired, as it currently stands it is unenforceable and gives the general public false expectations,” states Mr Flynn.

Former Buccleuch Hunt master and the first person to be prosecuted under the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act 2002, Trevor Adams wants the legislation to remain as it is.

He was found not guilty of being in breach of the legislation during a meet near Kelso in 2004, Sheriff Drummond ruling that the dogs were not out of control and had been used merely to flush out foxes so they could be shot, in accordance with the legislation.

“There is no demand for a change to the present Act in this part of the world where the need to control foxes is recognised,” said Mr Adam.